Ready to discover a twist on a Gothic classic in 2021? I might have just the thing…
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Genre: General Fiction, Adult Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date Published: 5 Jan 2021 (E-Book)
April 2021 (Paperback)
Print length: 3843 pages
A girl looking for love…
When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.
A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.
A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…
Whilst I wouldn’t usually pick mystery/thriller books, I was instantly drawn to The Wife Upstairs. In this book, Hawkins takes a story many of us know and turns it on its head – leading to a book that is thrilling and infuriating in equal measure.
Rather than Northern England, the action of this story takes place in Alabama – against the backdrop of a glamorous, gated community. The quiet, English heroine many of us know and love has been switched for a straight-talking, no-nonsense girl who isn’t afraid to do anything to get what she wants. Even though I love the novel this is based on – so much so my 8,000 word dissertation was focused on it – I’m glad Hawkins breathed new life into a character that (although a challenge to how women were presented) never really reached her full potential, in my opinion. This Jane was funny, whip smart and I loved the mystery that surrounded her character.
Much like the heroine she is based on, Jane has to navigate a social class which is largely unfamiliar to her, which leads to some funny, outrageous and downright toe-curlingly awkward moments throughout the novel (as someone who has been wearing the same selection of outfits for the majority of 2020, I don’t know how I’d cope with all the events she had to attend!). I really didn’t know whether to be on Jane’s side or trying to find someone else to attach my loyalty to.
Similarly to his original namesake, this version of Rochester is handsome, beguiling and very mysterious. It was easy, at least in the early stages of the novel, to be pulled in by him – just as Jane was. I found myself shouting at the book, at Jane, and at myself multiple times for falling into whatever traps he left.
One of my problems with the novel this is based on was the fact that Bertha does not have a voice. She is seen through the eyes of the other characters and her narrative, her thoughts and feelings, and how we as readers should feel about her were all crafted by Jane, Rochester and various other characters. I’m glad Hawkins didn’t shove Bea aside, instead creating a driven, powerful and quite frustrating character (at times).
Narrative wise, the novel follows Jane, Eddie and Bea before, during and after an accident which occurred a year previously. I loved the fact that it wasn’t just Jane the readers get to hear from, as the multiple viewpoints added to the suspense and mystery- even for me, who was pretty sure I knew where the book was going!
The Wife Upstairs takes a novel a lot of us know – some of us love it, others not so much – and changes it. It has an addictive quality to it, making it impossible to put down, and the conclusion- as well as the possibilities for where this narrative could go, if Hawkins chose to return to it – is brilliant.
A Few “Thank Yous”
I wouldn’t have been able to read this book, or participate in this Blog Tour, without a few people. I firstly want to thank Anne Cater, of Random Things Tours, for organising this blog tour (and letting me be part of it).
I also want to thank the publishers Harper Collins and the writer, Rachel Hawkins, for allowing me to read an E-copy of this book via NetGalley. I was hooked by The Wife Upstairs, her first novel for adults, and I hope others will be as well.
About The Author
Rachel Hawkins is the New York
Times bestselling author of multiple books for young readers, and her work has been translated in over a dozen countries. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and currently lives in Alabama with her husband and son. The Wife Upstairs is her first adult novel.
You can purchase The Wife Upstairs on Amazon.
That’s my stop on the Random Things Tour for The Wife Upstairs complete! Don’t forget to check out the other reviews and interviews as part of this tour.
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